Reasons Your Life Doesn’t Begin And End With Your ATAR Result

Produced in association with our mates at UTS:INSEARCH.

Not to discount the incredible/aggressive amount of hard work people have and will put into their end of year exams but ~ultimately~ what does it all even mean? 

This isn’t going to get existential. It will, sorry to say, get incredibly clichéd up in here – sports analogies may be deployed – because this is likely going to be advice you’ve heard countless times before. Having said that, friends, it doesn’t hurt to get reminded what a stellar human you are and can be no matter your results.

If you’re looking at your ATAR score as the ultimate endgame, gearing everything in your life towards that one point, you’ll either reach the number you’ve decided on in your head, or you won’t. And then what? You’re either a success or a failure? 

Nah, man.

Whereas if you look past the numbers, fix your gaze further off and see the big picture, guaranteed you’ll come out of this whole red hot mess a more functional human. By moving the goal posts, you’re giving yourself a whole lot more room to breathe and countless options for how to actually kick that goal. 


Reasons your life doesn’t begin and end with a single number are plentiful but here are just a few to ~un-harsh your ATAR stress vibes~ a little:


Your health is more important. (And the first cliché out of the gate is a good one).

I say this to those amongst us who are worrying themselves sick over their ATAR score and I say this with <3: if you are at DEFQON 1, with stress levels that are seriously affecting your quality of life, over your final exams – what exactly do you think will change post-ATAR?

Getting into the course you and/or your parents think you want is only the beginning. It’s a long old slog through years more of study, finding a job, doing the job, advancing through the job and retiring from the job. 

I have seen friends fight against their own personalities and aptitudes trying to fit into a box that, in most instances, their parents were forcing them into i.e. setting them up to fail. Not everyone is the kind of person who would make a good surgeon. Not everyone will benefit from going to uni at 18 or going to uni at all. And, imho, there’s definitely not enough focus in high school on the many different types of skills that we all have. But, you know where there is a recognition of those things and a million and one ways you can contribute? In the wider world.

The HSC years can feel like a bubble – filled with stress, essays and stressays – and if you’re like a lot of people, you will end up doing a job you didn’t even know existed when you (figuratively) opened your ATAR envelope.

It would be easy to envy the people who seem to have it figured out, who know what job they want, know they’d be great at it and have mapped how to get to that place by the time they’re choosing electives in Year 10. But it’s also the not knowing that will lead you to a lot of truly excellent experiences in your life. (Y O L O  et cetera).

You’ll hear it over and over again and you may choose to dismiss it but, honestly, the pressure you and those in your bubble are putting on you is not warranted. Step back for a second and take several seats. Check your mental and physical health before you wreck yourself. 


The ATAR is contentious and with good reason. There’s never going to be an ideal way of ranking every Australian school leaver on a magical list. Things that come into play include but are no way limited too: the subjects you chose, the socio-economic standing of your school, your performance on a handful of very specific days in your life, how good your memory is, how good your teachers are and everything else going on in your life. 


There are so many things that you would be A++ at, that you don’t even know about yet. Promise.


Testimonials from two legends who work here and know a thing or two about learning on the job:

Jordana [Project Manager at PEDESTRIAN.TV]. “I started getting intern work experience while at school at 16/17 to figure out what industry I wanted to be in, by experiencing the industry (before I chose uni subjects). Then I gained more and more experience while I studied and then quickly landed a full time job producing fashions shows after I studied fashion design. I landed the job because of the experience and contacts I’d made. I knew a lot of struggling post graduate fashion designers. So I ended up in a field that wasn’t at all the same as what I’d studied. Show production. Then went to creative agency, now Pez. So yeah!”

Nat [Project Manager at PEDESTRIAN.TV]. “If I could do it all again I would: 1) Not go to uni and study Government/International Relations – what a farce – I would move to Paris and spend a year in a pimp college, summers in the med, long weekends partying with pals in London and making crazy beautiful connections. 2) Spend the second year interning somewhere ***ing FABulous while at the same time partake in a night course of sorts, to add another skill to my cv. 3) In the third year I’d gun for a rad part time job somewhere amaze with someone I saw as a mentor, while simultaneously dabbling in entrepreneurial activities because, hey, I’m young as ****, have no financial responsibilities/probs still live at home and – if I fail – well, heck, everyone else is still at uni.”


What’s in a number? That which we call a success by any other route would be as sweet.

There are so many ways to get into the course or career you want. When you’re ready. Take UTS for example (for obvious reasons), like most learning institutions, they have a plethora of different study options available and if you miss out on an offer for the UTS degree you want UTS:INSEARCH is another way in. You can study a diploma with them – plus, they assess each student applying on their HSC subject average, not ATAR – and then have the opportunity to jump straight into the second year of a UTS degree.

The thought that you’re somehow doing it wrong because you didn’t start your course straight away like your mates is seriously a crock. If you keep in mind what you want you’ll be a lot happier; don’t wait until your high school reunion to realise comparing your success/life in general to others is futile. 


Brett [Studying Bachelor of Business/Marketing and Management at UTS]. “In my high school years, I envisioned UTS as… the unclimbable mountain, a place that I would never get to experience because I just wasn’t smart enough. I’m glad UTS:INSEARCH proved me wrong; I graduated with top marks in my Diploma of Business and am now in my final year of a Bachelor of Business at UTS and doing really well. UTS:INSEARCH gave me a second chance to go to UTS and prove to myself that I could do well. I highly recommend them to others students who don’t get the ATAR needed for UTS or any other university…you won’t look back!”


So, no one told you life was going to be this way?

Well, don’t expect them to. Because they don’t know. They have no idea what ‘way’ your existence will be. Rich tapestry of life and all that. That’s all up to you, brah. 


Me [Works at PEDESTRIAN.TV]. “A foolproof poll of everyone I’ve spoken to in the last week proved conclusively that no one could have predicted where they would be a few years out of school, as they were standing on the precipice of year 12. This is an excellent time to travel, meet new people, learn ALL the skills and sponge up as much delicious knowledge as you can, because very few people expect you to be a contributing member of society for the duration of your early twenties.
Wallow in it.


Now, I cannot stress this one enough.

These adorable idiots don’t even know what an ATAR is ¯_(“~)_/¯


“I RUV YOU” – Them.

For a lot more info on UTS:INSEARCH head to their website or to check out their movie trailer head to